Have you been to the gym lately and saw people literary shaking while standing on a machine that looks like a smaller version of a treadmill? This relatively new training modality promises to be the future of passive exercising, and those vibrating machines you saw at the gym are toning plates, better known as vibration plates. While gyms are using them as a focal selling point to gain new clientele, these machines are also making their way into homes.
Numerous celebrities endorse vibration plates, helping these exercising aids gain recognition as invaluable pieces of equipment in the fitness industry. Vibration plates are also said to be responsible for the incredible shapes of renowned celebrities such as Claudia Schiffer, Madonna, and Jessica Alba.
Whole body vibration is not just all hype. If utilized correctly, this form of exercising promises to help you burn more calories in less time than what you normally would with traditional workouts. The benefits of vibration plates span beyond reducing workout time. They also help:
- Develop muscle
- Enhance strength
- Increase bone mineral density
- Improve balance
- Improve coordination,
- Improve stability
- Increase flexibility
- Enhance immune function
- Lead to better blood circulation
The effects that vibration plates have on building muscles make them a key element in rehabilitation therapy as well.
So, how exactly do vibration plates work and what makes them effective at bringing about the benefits mentioned above? Well, the basic principles of how vibration plates work revolve around movement and body reactions. Basically, these fitness machines do as their name suggests – they send fast and controlled vibrations to the body.
The first thing that the vibrations do is cause involuntary movement. This can be somewhat challenging when standing on rapidly vibrating plates. That should not worry you, though, because it won’t feel like your body is being thrown from the machine. In reality, the vibrations are slight yet rapid.
Since the main objective is to remain on the vibrating platform, the movements caused by the machine create instability in the body. Your body muscles are therefore forced to respond to keep you in balance. They do this by reacting with multi-directional contractions as a counter balance to gain stability. It’s estimated that vibration plates can induce 30 to 50 muscle reflexes per second, and the fact that the vibrations continue to work your muscles continuously results in a more intense workout when compared to traditional forms of exercise that often involve pauses. As your muscles contract and relax at rapid rates, they become more toned, gain strength, and you’ll be able to burn calories.
When shopping for vibration training equipment, it’s important to know that there are different types of vibration plate machines. These include oscillating (pivotal) and vertical (linear) vibration plates. Both machines induce involuntary stretch reflexes to engage your muscles into exercising. Let’s have a look at each type of vibration plate to understand how they work.
How Oscillating Vibrating Motion Works
The technology used to deliver oscillating motion on a vibration plate is quite simple. Plates that oscillate usually rest on a pivotal point. This means that as one side goes up, the other side goes down, much like how a seesaw tilts in alternation. Oscillating vibration plates actually simulates a natural movement that is similar to walking.
One of the advantages of plates designed to use this sort of vibration is that they cause your body muscles to work in turns. As the muscles contract alternately, this only adds a 30% load on the body weight. These alternating patterns of muscle movements train your body to maintain balance.
How Vertical Vibrating Motion Works
While the techniques used to manufacture vertical plates are complex, the main objective of such machines is to deliver even vibrations across the linear plane. This means that the entire plate moves up and down in a uniform manner. As a result, muscle fibers are forced to resist gravity vertically from a standing position when using a linear vibration plate. The movements generated can be helpful in improving jump height, which is a great benefit for basketball players.
Oscillating vs. Vertical Vibrating: Which is better?
It can be difficult to say which of these two vibration plate techniques is superior because full research hasn’t been done to establish which is better. Fitness experts also offer differing opinions on the subject. Some are in favor of oscillation plates while others vouch for vertical vibration machines, and hence the debate rages on.
Due to the different ways in which oscillating and vertical plates work, standing on machines that use either of these two technologies may feel different. If you choose to base your decision on what feels more comfortable, a good idea would be to try out vibration machines that use both plates at your local gym.
When looking at both vertical and oscillating vibration plate models, you’ll often come across “amplitude” as one of the technical specifications. This basically refers to the difference between the lowest and highest point when the vibration plate is oscillating. Amplitude levels can range from 1mm to 10mm or more depending on the type of vibration training machine you wish to purchase.
Both of these machines also operate with motors, which generate the force required to vibrate the plates. While motor power (usually expressed in Watts) improves a vibration plate’s performance, the motor quality is just as important.
It’s important to note that despite the different types of vibration plate machines that exist on the market, the underlying principles remain the same. All vibration plates transmit controlled waves of energy to the body, causing involuntary muscle contractions that simulate actual exercise.
While you may find some high-end models that come with added features like a calorie counter and BMI (body mass index) register, these utilities do not change the way vibration plates work. Additional features on a vibration plate machine can be convenient in helping you monitor the progress of your workout sessions, and they rely on personal characteristics of each user like weight, the duration of each workout, and the chosen intensity or speed of vibration. Just keep in mind that these machines can be more expensive as compared to vibration plate machines without any bells and whistles.